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Accidental Family aired from September 1967 until January 1968 on NBC.

Jerry Van Dyke played nightclub comedian Jerry Webster, one of tv's many widowers, confronted with the problems of raising a young son Sandy played by Teddy Quinn. In this series father decided literally to " farm out" his son by purchasing a farm in California's San Fernando Valley as a full time home for the boy and part-time home for himself, between performing commitments. Farm Manager Sue Kramer ( Lois Nettleton), a pretty divorcee whose daughter, Tracy ( Susan Benjamin), just happened to be Sandy's age , served as de facto governess for the boy and foil for Jerry. Ben McGrath ( Ben Blue), the farm handyman , and Marty Warren ( Larry D. Mann), Jerry's friend and lawyer, rounded out the cast of regulars.

An Article from the Toledo Blade
Published:October 13, 1967

Everything (Bad) Happens To Jerry
That Other Van Dyke Is TV Loser

By Hal Humphrey

HOLLYWOOD-"I'm even afraid to ask my wife. 'Who do you want to watch-Jerry Van Dyke or Cary Grant?' I think my friends are avoiding me because they have not seen my show either."

Jerry Van Dyke is one of those unfortunates whose new tv series has been dropped into a time slot opposite a network movie. His "Accidental Family" show on NBC Fridays hits the air a half-hour after the CBS movie has started.

To make matters worse, CBS opened the season by splitting "The Great Escape" into a two-parter over Thursday and Friday, and Jerry's premiere show came on against the concluding night of that movie.The first rating on "Accidental Family" was terrible.

On the following Friday Jerry had to buck Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne, a formidable pair in any league.They were co-starred in " The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance."

But it was the third Friday that Jerry decided the fates were really against him.NBC pre-empted "Accidental Family" to air President Johnson's address on Vietnam.

"I sat in front of my set stunned. There wasn't even an announcement that 'Accidental Family' would be back the next Friday," Jerry wails. "In this business you have to have such confidence and I never did, so I'm beginning to wonder about myself. I'll tell you. I could use a success about now, and I believe this is a good show, but we've got to get out of that Friday night."

Jerry's last series, which he doesn't defend, was a thing called "My Mother, the Car," and was on two seasons ago.Prior to that bomb, he was on 12 of Judy Garland's CBS shows.

" I was scared to death all the time on that one. They kept changing my character. In the first show my opening line to Judy was 'What's a nice little old lady like you doing on a show like this?' I couldn't believe it but the producer said it would be funny coming from me. It wasn't. They changed producers three times on that show, and when the third one was asked, 'How do we use Jerry?' he said, 'I'll tell you how-we fire him.' And they did."

Jerry also hosted a CBS summer replacement game show. "Picture This," his biggest tv success. "It never dropped out of 14th place, but everything else was reruns," he says.

At least one man has confidence in Jerry. That's Sheldon Leonard, who met him when he appeared on brother Dick Van Dyke's show, which Sheldon produced in partnership with Danny Thomas.

"Sheldon always said he'd like to do a show with me. When he came up with 'Accidental Family' for NBC, he called me to do it, and he had a tough time selling me in the part. Each time he brought my name up, somebody would yell
'Jerry Van Dyke' like he'd said, Sonny Tufts.' If this show goes down the drain, you won't sell me with 40 Sheldon Leonards," Jerry concludes.

His feelings aren't salved by the fact that brother Dick knocked about in tv longer than Jerry before striking it big in the Dick Van Dyke Show. There was the CBS Morning Show,ABC's Mother's Day Show, a string of appearances on Garry Moore's daytime show, and three series pilot films ( none of them sold)which Dick went through without any ringing success.

"But Dick's name didn't mean anything then, so those things were forgotten," says Jerry. "Now the name means something, and they remember me from my last flop."

In "Accidental Family" Jerry plays a nightclub comic, which is what he was before attempting a TV career.He may have to go back to that, if the dire predictions of some industry leaders come true. They are of the opinion that half-hour shows may be about through on TV.Old Movies and hour-long TV shows are taking over more of the networks' prime time each season, so they could be right.

Meanwhile, Jerry Van Dyke keeps praying that NBC will move his series to another time slot and that President Johnson won't make anymore speeches on Fridays.

Lois Nettleton's Obituary From The New York Times
Published: January 22, 2008

Lois Nettleton, 80, Dies; Acted on Stage and TV

Lois Nettleton, an actress whose dramatic and comic dexterity in theater, film and television earned her wide public recognition and deep professional respect for more than a half century, died on Friday in Woodland Hills, Calif. She was 80.

The cause was complications of lung cancer, her friend Dale Olson said.

Ms. Nettleton, who had a soft, almost breathy speaking voice, made an indelible impression in 1973 when she took over the role of Blanche DuBois in a Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams's Streetcar Named Desire. Critics applauded the courage her character displayed in the face of corruption and broken, magnolia-scented dreams. In a review for The Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate, Rex Reed called her performance, starkly different from previous ones, shatteringly brilliant.

Her extensive work in television included the role of Norma in The Midnight Sun, a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone about an ever-hotter Earth, which is considered a classic by students of the series. Her many other television roles included appearances on early dramatic shows like Studio One and Armstrong Circle Theater and more recent ones on popular shows like Seinfeld and Cagney & Lacey. She also appeared for three years on the daytime drama General Hospital.

Her movies began with a bit part on Elia Kazan's Face in the Crowd, and she was one of the last contract players at MGM. In an interview with Back Stage in 2004, Ms. Nettleton said she was first cast as the plain nice girl or the unhappy wife next door. Her vehicles later became quite varied, ranging from the film adaptation of Williams's Period of Adjustment to The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Ms. Nettleton told Back Stage that the joy in acting is playing as many different characters as possible. She said she turned down many roles that did not interest her and favored mature roles.

Lois Nettleton was born in August 1927, in Oak Park, Ill. Her family was poor and her parents divorced when she was young. In an interview with After Dark in 1972, she said she used fantasy to escape her circumstances, developing an ambition to act in the process. She put on little shows in her backyard.

In 1948, she was Miss Chicago and a semifinalist in the Miss America pageant.

After graduating from high school, Ms. Nettleton studied at the Goodman Theater in Chicago, then moved to New York to join the Actors Studio, where she learned the Method approach to acting.

Ms. Nettleton made her Broadway debut in 1949 in The Biggest Thief in Town, with Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times calling her work pleasantly fresh and disarming.

In 1955, Ms. Nettleton was understudy to Barbara Bel Geddes in Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and occasionally got to play the role of Maggie. In 1959, she won a Clarence Derwent Award for best supporting performance by a nonfeatured actress for her portrayal of Shelagh O'Connor in God and Kate Murphy.

In 1976, Ms. Nettleton was nominated for a Tony Award for a Broadway revival of Sidney Howard's They Knew What They Wanted.

She told Back Stage that she would have liked to have spent more time in New York concentrating on theater, but that she had to take care of her ailing mother in Los Angeles. There, she became best known for her television work, including being a regular on In the Heat of the Night and appearing in popular series like Murder, She Wrote, and The Golden Girls. She was nominated for several Emmies.

Ms. Nettleton was divorced from Jean Shepherd, the radio host and author; they met when she called his show. She left no immediate survivors.

To see episodes of Accidental Family go to

For more on Accidental Family go to

For an episode guide of Accidental Family go to

for a website dedicated to Jerry Van Dyke go to

To watch the opening credits go to
Date: Thu July 20, 2006 � Filesize: 36.5kb, 49.6kbDimensions: 576 x 864 �
Keywords: Teddy Quinn Jerry Van Dyke (Links Updated 5/13/2017)


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